'Rich Man North of Richmond' Singer Oliver Anthony Sings About Human Trafficking but Knows Little About It

"Minors on an island" is a lyric from Oliver Anthony's 'Rich Man North of Richmond,' which has become an anthem for conservative people.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Aug. 22 2023, Published 4:24 p.m. ET

The gist:

  • Overnight country sensation Oliver Anthony's song "Rich Men North of Richmond" has become an anthem for conservatives.
  • Many are wondering about the meaning behind one lyric from the song: "I wish politicians would look out for miners, and not just minors on an island somewhere."
  • The line seems to be referring to Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex.
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Virginia native Oliver Anthony appeared seemingly out of nowhere when a video of his song "Rich Men North of Richmond" was released on the radiowv YouTube Channel. As of the time of this writing, it's garnered over 32 million views and nearly 129,000 comments. "It’s not just his voice and it's not just the words," commented one person. "It’s the conviction and emotion he uses to get it across. I wish more music was just like this in any genre."

From the outside the song appears to come from an authentic place, but upon further inspection of the lyrics, some things don't make sense. He certainly touches on buzzwords that always get people going, like when he references being taxed. But other times, Oliver seems to shoehorn in conspiracy theory style rhetoric which has been fueling a corner of the country for several years. Specifically, we're interested in what "minors on an island means," and what it has to do with struggling Americans.

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What does minors on an island mean? It's unclear if Oliver Anthony himself knows.

In a song that Oliver claims is meant to promote positivity and unification, he briefly goes to a pretty dark place. "I wish politicians would look out for miners, and not just minors on an island somewhere," he sings. Although he's never expressly said it, it's obvious that Oliver is talking about Jeffrey Epstein who was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex. Many of these crimes were committed on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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On Aug. 7, 2023, Oliver released a video on his own YouTube Channel titled "It's a pleasure to meet you." In it he talks about himself and why he wrote "Rich Men North of Richmond." He also mentions human trafficking, again. "I think one of the worst things that a human being can do is take advantage of a child, and I can't begin to conceptualize what has to happen to someone in order for them to think that's OK," he explains.

"I think I drew the line on being quiet when I started to see that becoming normalized. I'll leave that at that," says Oliver before changing the subject. Here's the thing, should he leave it at that? Most people would agree that human trafficking is bad, so taking a hard stance against it is unnecessary. However, he doesn't go into detail about how it is being normalized. It's vaguely reminiscent of PizzaGate or the Wayfair sex trafficking lie dreamt up by QAnon.

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Oliver Anthony also has thoughts about welfare.

In another part of a song meant to bring people together, Oliver condemns welfare programs and in particular the "obese milkin' welfare." This is followed up by fatphobia in the form of "if you're 5-foot-3 and you're 300 pounds, taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds." What a strange stance to take from a man who won't stop talking about positivity and being kind to others.

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In an Instagram post dated Aug 7. 2023, Oliver uploaded a photo of a fudge round. The vibe of the caption was quite different from the lyrics of his song. "The lyrics contrast that some are left without any, and others are only left with the option of living on junk food," he writes. "Food is entirely too expensive, especially in a nation with abundant farmland. In politics, it's all about keeping people who are dependent, dependant."

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Addressing the root of an issue is a great idea, but this is not what Oliver says in his song. He claims obese people are taking advantage of public assistance programs, such as welfare. First of all, welfare no longer exists. It was replaced in 1996 under Bill Clinton who created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

"Under TANF, the federal government provides a fixed block grant to states, which use these funds to operate their own program," per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Although each state has their own programs, the goals are similar, many of which include child care services. We know Oliver worries about children, but he seems to mostly be concerned with some vague idea of human trafficking while belittling social programs designed to help kids in need.

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